Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 27, 2009

EVEN AT REGENT.... When TV preacher Pat Robertson created Regent University in Virginia Beach 30 years ago, he had a rather specific idea in mind. He'd show the "elites" a thing or two about education, and offer politically conservative evangelical Christians degrees shaped by a specific worldview -- the kind found on his Christian Broadcasting Network. Everyone on the faculty is not only of the same faith, but is required to sign a statement acknowledging the infallibility of the Bible.

For the most part, Robertson has had some success, and his school has trained prominent religious right-style Republicans who served in positions of influence in government, including the Bush White House.

With that in mind, I can't help but find it fascinating that Robertson's Regent University will now, believe it or not, be home to Regent Democrats.

It's not as daring as, say, Pat Robertson's Republican run for the White House in 1988. But there's no denying that starting a Democratic student group at Robertson's Regent University seems a bit audacious.

"Here, it is definitely a startling idea," said Kalila Hines, a government major and one of the founding members of Regent Democrats.

Regent, where Robertson is president and chancellor, has long had a student Republican group. The university approved Regent Democrats as an official student organization in late January, and the group now counts about 30 members.

Brandon Carr, a law student and vice president of Regent Democrats, described the group as "Democrats and independents who want to be Christian leaders to change the world ... explaining to others how you can be a Christian and agree to some Democratic principles as well."

I never thought I'd see the day.

In the bigger picture, this not only reflects changes at Regent, it also speaks to key shifts among younger evangelicals. For Robertson's generation and these students' parents, to be politically active was to be a conservative Republican. To care about "moral issues" was to focus exclusively on gays and abortion.

All of that's changing, slowly but surely. The GOP lock on evangelicals is loosening. Poverty and global warming are just as serious for many younger evangelicals as whether two consenting adults of the same gender can get married.

And Pat Robertson's Regent University has an official student organization for Democrats.

Steve Benen 10:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Kinder, Gentler Religious Kooks.

Posted by: Jay on March 27, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Mini-steps on the road to an open mind.

Posted by: candideinnc on March 27, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

There are plenty of Christian colleges and universities that were not founded by Pat Robertson and don't see his agenda as part of their mission. I suspect that the students ended up at Regent because their parents insisted that they attend that university, rather than another, comparable Christian institution. And for that reason, I feel sorry for the students but admire the fact that they're trying to carve out a space for themselves more in keeping with their own ideological values.

Posted by: Tyro on March 27, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

i hate to be Mr. Pessimist all the time, but really, beware the Trjoan Horse.

there is an understandable enthusiasm to see this as progressive incursion into "enemy" territory.

there is every bit as high a likelihood that this is a Regent incursion into Democratic territory, or at least an attempt at same.

i wouldn't bring that big ol' wooden horse into town square and close the gate behind it just yet.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 27, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

i don't see this ending well for the democratic party if these "regent democrats" gain positions of power within the party.

hopefully i'm old enough that i won't live to see the day when they do.

Posted by: karen marie on March 27, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Kinda hard to infiltrate the Democratic Party when College Republicans is on the resume. In 10 years we'll wonder where creationist Democratic candidates came from.

Posted by: petorado on March 27, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I was struck by Carr's comment that "...you can be a Christian and agree to some of the Democratic principles as well" which does sound like a Trojan Horse. Watch the changing stripes as they progress with this endeavor.

Posted by: Del on March 27, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I don't recall Jesus saying much about gays or abortion, but he had a lot to say about the poor and the sick, and people's role in helping others -- individually and collectively. You know -- mercy, compassion, all that stuff. Nice to see at least some folks at Regent have finally figured that out.

Posted by: Andy on March 27, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I need better glasses. I had to read that a second time. I mistook "Regent Democrats" for "Reagan Democrats," and so I thought, what's so weird about that? Those religious nuts worship the Gipper as if he were the second son of God.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on March 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I'm not so surprised and the Regent kids have shown their true talents in e.g. their film fest showings. They're a cut above the usual dextro-biblical outfits.

Posted by: Neil B. ♣ on March 27, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, goody - Now, Tammy Bruce can come back for some continuing education and be a mentor.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 27, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Regent needs students, apparently, and probably they get most of them from the state of Virginia, which is turning blue. Q.E.D. dems are welcome at Regent.

Posted by: in vino veritas on March 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Nice touch that Regent continues the ROTC program, where Pat Robertson is a guest lecturer on how to run a Class VI Liquor program during the time of war.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 27, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Keith Richards was reportedly infuriated when Sir Mick Jagger agreed to accept his knighthood. He finally cooled off when Charlie Watts pointed out, "There are plenty of horrible people who have been knighted".

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Or so I've heard.

Posted by: JL on March 27, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

It's not change; it's camouflage.

Posted by: Eric on March 27, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Great, the Monica Goodlings of the world will now have a 'D' behind their name as well. What a shame for the Democratic Party.

Just another causality of the Bush administration, the religious nuts jumping the R ship and clinging to the D ship. Before you know it they are going to start welding power in my party and I would rather they stayed far away.

Posted by: ScottW on March 27, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Infallibility of the Bible, eh?? I would be fascinated to hear how they reconcile the different lineages of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus that are given in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38. You can't have two different fathers can you?

Or how they reconcile the two different stories of Creation that are given in Genesis Chapter 1 versus Genesis Chapter 2?

These doorknobs don't even know what is in the Bible, yet blindly accept that it is all true.

Posted by: Sam Simple on March 27, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Strange phrasing "you can be a Christian and agree to some of the Democratic principles..." Normally you agree with things such as principles, and only agree to what you must, something that is negotiated or conditional. Might just have been a verbal typo, but I wouldn't be too quick to take this group at face value.

Posted by: Katie on March 27, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just looking at Roberts,is like seeing satan incarnate,he's insidious!!!

Posted by: vic on March 27, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sam Simple infallibility is different from inerrancy, which you are showing is unsupportable. Infallibilty is the notion that the Bible cannot fail the believer in matters of faith and practice. It is eesentially a non-Catholic substitute for an infallible Pope.

Posted by: in vino veritas on March 27, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the Reagent factory will produce really progressive Democrats, like Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh.


Posted by: doubtful on March 27, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am surprised that a lot of the readers of this article are surprised that Regent had democrats. I am a Regent Alum (I went to the law school) and I also tend to vote democrat. There were several of us that did not follow the GOP. I mean of course the majority of the students were republican but others did exsist, and our opinions were welcomed and debated.

Posted by: Tisha on March 27, 2009 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

...and I also tend to vote democrat. -Tisha

And that's apparently why you used the pejorative misnomer for the Democratic Party that so many needling conservatives foist upon us.

Posted by: doubtful on March 27, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

In Vino, while you are able to make a distinction between inerrancy and infallibility wrt to the Bible, I'm extremely skeptical that the good folks who run Regent had any such distinction in mind when they developed the statement that the faculty has to sign. I'd bet that to them, infallibility is the same as inerrancy, and the contradictions pointed out by Simple Sam are irrelevant to true believers. As to whether how many of the faculty and students really and truly believe in their own minds in biblical inerrancy/infallibility, that's another question entirely.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 27, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

and our opinions were welcomed and debated.

I'm coining a new acronym: STOTD.

Spit take of the day.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on March 27, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody ever read Steeplejacking? (by Culver & Dorhauer, I believe) This sounds familiar...

Posted by: True on March 27, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

If you believe in the infallibility of the Bible, how can you possibly vote Republican?? The Bible curses just about everything the Republicans stand for!!

Posted by: T on March 27, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK
Sam Simple infallibility is different from inerrancy, which you are showing is unsupportable. Infallibilty is the notion that the Bible cannot fail the believer in matters of faith and practice. It is eesentially a non-Catholic substitute for an infallible Pope.

Well, except that simple infallibility of Scripture is both older than the doctrine of Papal infallibility (which, in fact, derives in part from it), and Catholic in origin, making it neither non-Catholic nor a substitute for Papal infallibility, sure.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 27, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"... pejorative misnomer for the Democratic Party that so many needling conservatives foist upon us..."

The noun would be Democrat, as in "I'm voting for the Democrat". The adjective is Democratic as in "I'm voting for the Democratic candidate". "I also tend to vote Democrat" isn't really either but is closer to the noun. Also, Tisha's usage sounds correct to me from way back in my childhood (mid 70s).

Posted by: Kate on March 27, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think church and state should be separated.

I think we should call a spade a spade. If Catholics and Evangelicals want to make their abortion dogma part of law, then we should call them Catholics and Evangelicals to get the point across, not "conservatives."

Posted by: Luther on March 27, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Dog X-tians? Repub or Dem. It don't matter. G*d's law or Man's law. That's the question.

Regent is a school that teaches young people how to inject X-tianity into the fabric of American Gov't. That's why they go to school there. That's why it exists.

Whatever labels they stick on themselves at Regent are a smokescreen for the real agenda. Blurring the line between church and state. PINO's - Partisans In Name Only. Bottom line is, they belong to the Party of G*d.

Posted by: burro on March 27, 2009 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I am a Regent Alum

Actually, I'm genuinely curious why you chose Regent over other law schools.

Posted by: Tyro on March 27, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

They swear to uphold the constitution over their interpretation of the bible right?...Right?

Where fantasy replaces science and reason. Regent medical sch...er..a...law school...where Jesus is a lawyer according to Regent repubs...or a social worker community organizer according to the Regent dems.

Come on with the rapture already and get these people out of here.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 27, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

btw...whatever happened to Jesus's half brothers?
I'm surprised someone hasn't traced their family tree back to them claiming to be related to the half brothers of Jesus

Posted by: bjobotts on March 27, 2009 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Poverty, social justice and global warming are neither democratic nor republican issues; they are survival and human issues thus irreconcilable with a particular political ideology.

I have no problem with religion being on the curriculum. But I do have a problem when students are taught to bring religion into politics and then infiltrate our political arena -- after decades conservative christians have made in-roads into every nook and cranny of local, state and federal government. That is why we are still debating evolution and creationism, allowing prayer in schools, so on and so forth.

The majority of colleges and universities provide students with a diverse range of ideas and encourage independent thinking. Regent is categorically not in that majority. I envision the school as a place where students have a group-think mentality.

Regent Law School was not even accredited until a few years ago. Prior to Bush, Regent's law graduates were rarely, if ever, considered for positions in the Justice Department. But Bush appointed Monica Goodling and others from Regent anyhow.

If you re_member Goodling denied internships to liberal, progressive or democratic applicants. Even republicans were turned away if they were not conservative enough or as deferential and loyal to Bush as she thought they should be. That is a prime example of group-think mentality.

They used the Justice Department as a tool to prosecute political adversaries, to obstruct investigations, to block inquiries and as a means to provide political cover. The concept of justice completely escaped their realm of knowledge or understanding. Worse they saw nothing wrong with politicizing matters of law. Is there any reason to think that Regent democrats wouldn't follow suit?

As long as global warming, social justice and poverty are seen through a political ideological prism rather than a human lens then irreconcilable differences remain.

Posted by: serena1313 on March 27, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why make 'em sign anything. They don't trust 'em?

They don't even make you sign anything when you give testimony in court.

The "why" says a lot about their real motivations.

Looking down on all non believers and trying to save homos is allowed in a democracy. So is screw you and the Jeebus you rode in on....McCain really is in a soundproof room. As the ancient Roman said..."Nothing like the smell of Christians in the morning. Smells like...victory."

Too full of fear not to believe...to insecure to trust my own reasoning.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 27, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

The nouveau Bull Moose Party is a'courtin' precisely those it so voluably abhorred for so long. The GOP platform of aggressive ignorance embraces *everyone* with fewer teeth than fingers or fewer IQ points than ambient degrees (presumably Fahrenheit and south of the Mason-Dixon line). Republicants' Rush Toward Failure is a mighty mirror of Democraps' social engineering from income redistribution, forced busing, and diversity to forced hiring.

Jesus horribly died before His horrible toll collectors could horribly impose His horrible will upon men. Rest assured that come what may, Washington's alphabet soup of armed incompetence will never have its reticle wander from your wallet. It is an an inconvenient truth that only the Carbon Tax on Everything can save us, administered by carbon credit arbitrageurs like Al Gore, Jr. Pay up sucker, "Hodie mihi, cras tibi".

Posted by: Uncle Al on March 28, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK



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